The Oak Mirror & a History Lesson

 I had no idea that there was a history lesson waiting inside of this mirror when it was gifted to me by my Fairy Godmother.  It was mentioned a few weeks ago, so let's get to it, shall we?
The mirror showed up on my front porch with lots of chipping blue paint.  
It actually flaked off with a touch of a fingernail and I could see it was made of oak.  Here's a close-up of the design at the top:
I knew I had to get rid of that paint and show-off the wood, so I started to dismantle the back to remove the mirror.  There was some wire for hanging and very old paper that flaked right off.
Once that was removed, I could see some tiny nails that held a piece of cardboard in place.  
With a pair of pliers, I carefully removed those, lifted the cardboard off the back, tossed it on the floor, and continued to remove tiny nails.  There were SO many  and they were all dropped onto that piece of cardboard.  I scooped up the paper flakes, put them on the cardboard and brought it all inside to dump in the trash. As I tipped the cardboard to dump everything, I noticed something on the other side.  This is what I found:
I was astonished - I had just thrown it on the floor!  This photo was approximately 22 inches wide and 13 inches high.  The best part?  It was in very good condition.  I showed my husband who immediately started an online search for those initials.  Sadly, he came up with nothing, so I contacted the historical society's website, leaving them a message describing what I had found and offering the photo to them.  In no time at all I had a response.  This is what it said:

The E.S.R.P.L. was the Empire State Roller Polo League.  Roller polo was a game similar to field and ice hockey, but played on a wooden floor by teams of players on roller skates who scored goals by knocking a ball into a net with a cane-like stick. The Empire State league was formed in the fall of 1909, although there was an earlier New York State league when the sport enjoyed its initial wave of popularity.  Amsterdam apparently had quite a good team even then and a very enthusiastic following as evidenced by the number and tone of several newspaper articles I just found on-line.  When the  ESRPL formed in 1909, Amsterdam was one of the original six teams.  I believe the photo you have may be the team with the league pennant they were presented on November 12, 1912 before the game at the Amsterdam Armory.  

The team was named the Hurricanas, after the Sanford Farm.  Their colors, again taken from the riding colors of the Sanford Stables, were purple and gold (hence the Amsterdam High School colors).  The banner in the picture is, naturally, purple and gold according to the newspaper description of it.  The 1911-12 team was composed of Fred "Scoop-em-up" Lincoln, George "Stonewall" Harper, Edward "Jigger" Higgins, Barney "Block-em-all" Doherty, Jack "Cage-em-often" Mercer, and John "Whirlwind" Carrigan (Manager). I believe it is the five players in the photo (less the manager).  

What an amazing history lesson and don't you just love the nicknames??? 
The photo was donated and Jerry (the man who picked it up) was beyond thrilled to have it added to the collection.  I was told it would be saved digitally as a failsafe measure and the idea of a creating a calendar was being considered.  He thought this photo and the story would be perfect for it.  

But, there was still work to be done on the mirror frame, so let's get back to that, shall we?  I sanded most of the frame and used Citristrip on the decorative portion at the top.  
The black on the upper right was not coming out and I think it may have been charred.  This was not a problem, since it would be painted black to make it stand-out.  
After painting and distressing that portion of the frame, golden oak stain was applied.
A cotton swab made it easy to get stain into those little nooks and crannies.
When the stain was dry, the entire piece was sealed with polycrylic.
I decided to keep the original mirror since the silver was in decent shape - far from perfect, but decent.  Using the cardboard and photo as a template, I cut a piece of mdf for a backing.  
The mirror was reassembled and everything was secured with metal brackets and screws.
Let me share a little secret with you.  Old things are rarely 'perfect' and this mirror was no exception.  In this next photo you'll notice a 'T' on the mdf.
As you've probably already guessed, 'T' stands for 'Top'.  I found this out the hard way when I tried to put the mdf in the other way and it didn't fit.  That's right, this is not a perfect oval.  Shocking, I know!  lol
A sawtooth hanger was added and the mirror was finished.
I'm so glad it's not blue anymore!
Here's a close-up:
Old things have always fascinated me and I've always said they have stories to tell.  Little did I know this story was hiding in plain sight.  

What stories/history lessons have you found lately?






Comments

  1. The mirror frame looks great now and the story of finding that picture and its history is amazing! I was a history teacher and stories like this are always fascinating to me. Thanks for sharing with us at Snickerdoodle, Ann.

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    1. Thank you, Beverly. I always say old things have stories to tell. What a pleasant surprise this one had in store for me. You just never know...

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  2. The mirror frame is lovely and you got an unexpected history lesson in the process. Bonus!

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    1. I sure did and I'm so glad I discovered it! Thanks for stopping by, Donna.

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  3. How awesome is this story behind the photo? I love learning things like this, isn't that tge fun of finding okd pieces?

    Thanks for sharing Ann. QTips come handy at times for projects.

    Cindy

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    1. It sure is, Cindy. Old things are my favorite...along with Qtips and toothpicks! lol

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  4. Wow...do you have a lot of patience and energy - this turned out so stunning! What a great local story you discovered, too!!

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    1. I really enjoy the process, especially since I have no deadlines. So glad you like it!

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  5. I love how that mirror turned out! And the story behind it was cool.

    ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
    ********************************************************

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn, and it really is quite a story!

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  6. So fantastic. I absolutely love old furniture, preferably antique, even if it's got sighs of it's years.

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    1. I love old furniture too. It has so much character and is much better made than anything you can buy today.

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  7. Great project and great story. Don't know if I could have given the picture away!

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    1. I did think about keeping it for just a moment, but it's history and needed to be with the historical association. At least I still have the pic!

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  8. What a cool surprise! I love old photos and wish I had more of my grandparents. You gave that mirror new life.
    www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

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    1. I love old photos too and also wish I had more of them from my family. This one went to the place it belongs - where others can enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by....

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  9. I love old things and their stories as well! I loved reading about your fun find hiding in the mirror. And the mirror makeover turned out lovely!
    -Niky @ The House on Silverado

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    1. Thank you, Niky. I was mortified that I'd thrown it on the floor and I'm sure the look on my face when I found the photo was something to see!
      Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  10. What an astonishing find. I love it. Now I want to peek behind our old mirrors. LOL! The mirror came out marvelous as well.
    Blessings, Dawn

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    1. No one was more surprised than me, Dawn. Now I'll be more careful when taking things apart and not throw them on the floor before checking both sides!

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  11. Your mirror came out beautiful! And what an awesome find inside! I recently bought an old picture frame at my local Goodwill that resembles your mirror. Sadly, when I took it apart to clean it, there was nothing amazing inside! 😞 Oh well, at least I got a great frame.🙂

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    1. This was a first for me, Briana. Keep looking. You never know what you might find!

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  12. ¡¡Una historia sorprendente!! para recordar....... y el espejo te ha quedado super-bonito, una joya.
    BESICOS.

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    1. You just never know where history is hiding. Thank you so much for visiting!

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  13. This makeover is fabulous and the story is so fun. What a keepsake, congratulations.

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    1. Thank you so much, Leanna. It certainly was a surprise!

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  14. What a great story! You were very kind in providing the photo to the historical society. And your makeover is just lovely. Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm! xo Kathleen

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    1. I always say old things tell a story, Kathleen. This one went above and beyond! Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  15. Very, very cool story and I love the fact that it ended it up your hands. Someone else may not have noticed it or not have cared about the history and tossed it. SO great that you sent it off somewhere that it could be preserved. The mirror came out great, too!

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    1. Thank you, Kim. I was so excited when I found it and a little bummed that we couldn't find anything about it, but I just knew the historical society would have some information. Jerry (the man I contacted) was so excited to have it....does a heart good!

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  16. Ann, you've literally given the mirror a second and a better life. Looks stunning. The details and the color are fabulous now.
    Thank you for linking at Meraki Link Party
    Naush

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    1. Thank you, Naush. I just knew there was something beautiful under that blue paint!

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  17. What a fascinating find! I’ve never heard of roller polo. And you did a gorgeous job on the mirror. It will be featured in this week’s Creative Compulsions.

    Michelle
    https://mybijoulifeonline.com

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    1. I had never heard of it either, Michelle - so many stories to be told. Thank you so much for featuring it!

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  18. Thank you for sharing this sweet story and beautiful mirror on Embracing Home and Family!

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  19. The mirror is lovely but I do love a good history lesson. How special and I'm glad you donated it for others to see. Thanks so much for sharing this week. #HomeMattersParty

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    1. Thank you, Donna. This one truly had a story to tell!

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